Breast Cancer in New Mothers| 5 Early Warning Signs You Should Not Ignore

During and after pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes significant physiological changes as well emotional upheaval. A few physiological changes that a woman experiences during pregnancy are cardiovascular, hematologic, metabolic, renal, and respiratory in order to provide adequate nutrition for the developing fetus inside the uterus. Pregnant women undergo extreme changes in the endocrine system as progesterone and estrogens levels fluctuate rapidly throughout the gestation period to suppress the hypothalamic axis and, as a result, the monthly menstrual cycle.Also Read – 5 Easy Tips For ABC – Acidity, Bloating and Constipation

A woman after delivering the baby has to ready herself to face a host of new challenges. In the midst of the sleepless nights and caring for the newborn, new mothers must adjust to physiological changes among all life-altering changes, most new mothers feel breastfeeding is daunting for them all. The breastfeeding period is often considered as the bonding time between a mother and the newborn, and during this time, new mothers tend to forget to take care of themselves. Also Read – Pale Skin, Weakness, Anxiety: Warning Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency You Should Not Ignore And Why

Most of the time, new mothers are preoccupied with caring for the infant that their own health gets sidelined. These symptoms may not appear to be life-altering, but need to be paid close attention to and checked routinely. One such condition that is often overseen is breast lumps, which is considered a common symptom of breastfeeding. The new mothers ignore these lumps assuming they have just blocked milk ducts. However, these are serious early warning signs of breast cancer. It is common for breastfeeding mothers to develop milk clots in the breasts, and these clots are quite similar to those found in those who suffer from breast cancer. Also Read – Body Fitness Tips: What Happens To Body When We Don’t Exercise? Side Effects Of Not Exercising, Explained | Watch Video

Breast cancer is considered to be the most common type of cancer among Indian women, accounting for 14 percent of female cancer patients. According to a recent study by breast cancer statistics every four minutes, a woman in India is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer in breastfeeding mothers is often misdiagnosed due to the similarity of the symptoms between cancer and blocked milk duct. But some of the early warning signs that need to be attention to are as follows:

Early Warning Signs

  • Mastitis -Mastitis is a very common kind of infection that occurs during breastfeeding, it is an inflammation of breast tissue. Most of the time, the causes are a blocked milk duct or bacteria entering the breast. It usually occurs within the first three months of breastfeeding and some of the key signs of mastitis are- breast tenderness, inflammation, shooting pain, and fever.
  • Routine checkups – Motherhood comes along with a lot of changes and challenges but it is imperative to pay close attention to every minor change that takes place in the body. If any hard masses are felt it is always advisable to get a thorough diagnosis, even though the lumps are not painful. It is always essential to understand the warning signs that the body emits.
  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) – IDC is a type of cancer that is usually seen growing in a milk duct and uses the fibrous or fatty tissue of the breast as a channel. IDC is known to be the most common form of breast cancer and comprises 80 % of all breast cancer diagnoses. Some of the common symptoms for IDC include- the appearance of rash or redness on the breast, swelling in the breast, sharp pain in the breast. An early diagnosis in this form of cancer is easily curable and has a higher survival rate.
  • Inflammation of the breast – Having full or engorged breast as the result of excessive milk supply in the first few months of breastfeeding is part of new motherhood. But as the infant develops a feeding routine, the body supplies milk according to requirement. Hence, in case of any kind of unusual swelling of all or any part of breasts would require a physician’s diagnosis.
  • Don’t overlook any unusual discharge – A watery or milky discharge is commonly seen while breastfeeding, albeit excessive discharge for a longer period of time can be a sign of alarm. Delay in such cases can be life-threatening.


Motherhood can be an overwhelming phase for new mothers and it is the most crucial time to bond with the newborn. While it is perfectly normal to immerse yourself in the nurturing of that tiny miracle, it is also equally important to understand your body and look out for any alarming changes.

(Authored by Dr.Guru Prasad Reddy, Plastic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Kondapur, Hyderabad) 

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